Lip gloss is one of the first things I ever made (this post from late 2011 is nearly a decade old, wowza), with my first batches pre-dating Humblebee & Me! I’ve experimented with many different ways to get that characteristic soft creamy, glossy consistency, and today I’m sharing another one 😄 Deep green blackberry seed oil stars in this luxurious gloss, with a small amount of colourant to give it a blackberry-hued tint. I’ve shared two variations of this formulation, each featuring a different thickener, leaving you to choose your version based on what you can get. One thickener creates a more glossy end product, while the other makes for a creamier gloss. I swatch both versions in the full video tutorial so you can see how they differ!
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The bulk of this Blackberry Lip Gloss is a blend of two different sumptuous oils; antioxidant-rich blackberry seed oil and shiny castor oil. Castor oil is a classic lip care oil for its indulgent texture, and blackberry seed oil is very on-theme and a lovely summery ingredient. Blackberry seed oil is dark green and does bring that to our products, though that colour is entirely covered in this formulation by the dye.
I’ve presented two different versions of this formulation with two different thickeners. The first one (and the one I make in the video) uses polyamide 3, and the second one uses cera bellina. Polyamide 3 is a relatively new-to-me ingredient; it’s one I’ve had for years but have only just remembered to tap into! Mine is from Making Cosmetics and they say right on the product page “If added to castor oil you will get an instant lip gloss with very nice feel and gloss”, so a lip gloss was an obvious first project to make with it! I find it’s a potent, glossy thickener and I think it could be awesome in a lot of other formulations as well. If you’ve been looking for a way to make clear glosses without a pre-made base like Versagel, this is it!
Since polyamide 3 is not a widely available ingredient, I also created a version of this gloss that is thickened with cera bellina instead. Cera bellina is a modified beeswax that creates rich and creamy oil gels. You can learn more about how it thickens and impacts our formulations here. If you compare the two versions of the gloss, I’d say the polyamide 3 version is more glossy, while the cera bellina version is creamier. I swatch them side-by-side in the video, so make sure you watch it!
The colour of this lip gloss comes from 2% liquid red 33 dye, which gives us a lovely blue-red blackberry colour. These liquid dyes are approximately 50% dye and 50% castor oil, thoroughly pre-dispersed so you don’t have to aggressively blend the powdered pigment into your formulations. If you only have the powdered dye you can definitely use that instead; simply use 1% dye and an extra 1% castor oil, and make sure you stir and blend thoroughly to blend the powder into the product.
I packaged the finished gloss in a hard-sided 5mL lip gloss tubes with a wand applicator from TKB Trading, but you could definitely use a soft squeezy lip gloss tube if you prefer. I think this gloss is too soft/liquidy for a pot to be a good choice, and it’s definitely too soft for a twist-up lip balm tube.
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Relevant links & further reading
- Blackberry Seed Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Castor Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cera Bellina in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Can I use mica instead of pure pigment?
- A Guide to Carrier Oil Substitutions
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life?
- Can I use a fragrance or flavour oil in place of the essential oil(s) called for in a recipe?
- My book! Make it Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care
- Other lip gloss formulations:
Blackberry Lip Gloss
Polyamide 3 version
Cera bellina version
Preheat your oven to 210°F (100°C).
Weigh the heated phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or a heavy glass custard cup—what makes the most sense for you will depend a lot on your batch size. Place the measuring cup in your prepared oven to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the measuring/custard cup from the oven and set it on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything.
The cera bellina version will melt just fine in a hot water bath—no need to use the oven if you don’t want to.
Continue stirring the mixture as it cools to ensure it’s uniform and smooth. If you’ve made a larger batch you’ll likely want to use an ice bath to speed things along; I found a 5g batch was fine to cool on its own, but heavy glass + a big batch will take a long time to cool without the assistance of an ice bath.
Once the mixture has thickened and cooled and is lovely and silky and uniform it’s time to package it up! I used some great 5mL lip gloss tubes with wand applicators from TKB Trading; they’ve got a nice wide opening so I can fill them without a funnel or syringe, which is really lovely. If you’d like to use a squeezy tube, check out this post to learn more about how I fill those. I don’t recommend using an open pot as this is a runnier gloss and that’ll likely make a mess.
Use as you’d use any lip gloss. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this lip gloss is 100% oil-based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 5g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list (cera bellina, vitamin E) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could use a different berry or fruit oil instead of blackberry seed oil to create a different version of this formulation. I think plum kernel oil, raspberry oil, and cranberry seed oil could all be lovely. So lovely, in fact, that I might have to make some myself!
- Do not substitute the castor oil.
- You MUST use some sort of thickener/hardener. Without a thickener you’re just making a lip oil.
- For the colour:
- Please read the post for information on using the dry powder instead of the liquid version.
- You could try red iron oxide or carmine instead, but they are very different colours.
- You could try a blend of carmine and blue ultramarine or blue lake dye for a slightly blue-y red. Blue ultramarine isn’t approved for lip use in the USA, but it is ok for lip use in the EU, so I assume it’s safe.
- You could use a mica instead, but remember that they are nowhere near as potent. Read this to learn more: Can I use mica instead of pure pigment?
- You could leave it out (replace that 2% with castor oil), but keep in mind this will make for a greeny-coloured gloss in the tube due to the blackberry seed oil.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this. It’s also a good idea to read this related FAQ: Can I use a fragrance or flavour oil in place of the essential oil(s) called for in a recipe?